MUSIC FANS were treated to performances from Mel C, James Blunt and the Black Eyed Peas at Faro’s Algarve Stadium last weekend. However, organisers were left feeling disappointed with the low turnout over the two-day event, reports The Resident’s Ruth Sharpe.
Over 60,000 fans were expected to attend the Algarve Summer Festival, which was held for the first time last year, but initial estimates from organisers suggest that only 30,000 people attended the event, which was performed over Saturday and Sunday evening.
The stadium, rarely used since its inception for Euro 2004, was transformed into an impressive music venue with a large stage erected at one end of the pitch with big screens, bars and food stalls lining the stands.
Portuguese group Souls of Fire kicked off the proceedings early on Saturday evening, followed by local favourite Rui Veloso.
As 9pm approached, the crowd began to increase in size with the anticipation of former Spice Girl Mel C arriving on stage. Greeted with loud cheers and applause from the Portuguese audience, she performed a mixture of her old and new material, including Baby, When You’re Gone, Never Be the Same Again and recent single First Day of My Life. The performance was full of energy, vocally impressive and entertaining, as the singer pleased the crowds with her lively dancing.
Arriving on stage, she immediately won the crowd over by wearing a Portugal football shirt with ‘MEL C’ on the back. Boosted by the popularity of her recent single, the former Sporty Spice, who is so often portrayed as living in the shadow of the fame of the Spice Girls, confidently portrayed herself as a solo artist. The song First Day of My Life has been extremely successful in Portugal and has enjoyed a huge amount of radio airplay over the past few months. She thanked the audience for being “so special”, as she bounced off the stage leaving her fans screaming for more.
Next, it was the turn of James Blunt who managed to attract a much larger crowd than his fellow British star, however, the stadium was still nowhere near its 30,000 capacity, with the majority of the seats left empty. The audience was mesmerised by Blunt’s unique vocal style and captivating melodies. His hour-long set included all the hits of his multi award-winning album, Back to Bedlam, with highlights including Wise Men, High and the ballad Goodbye My Lover, which has recently rocketed him to stardom in the United States. He also performed the cover of the Pixies classic Where is My Mind?, conveying a more upbeat side to his nature. The performance was predictably ended with the number one hit, You’re Beautiful. The crowd sang along with their lighters and phones aloft, creating an electric atmosphere. Although the set was quite short for a headline act, the quality of the performance blew the audience away and left everyone satisfied as they poured out of the stadium.
The fans returned again on Sunday for the most anticipated band on the bill, the Black Eyed Peas. FF (short for Fernando Fernandes) and Portuguese hip hop star Boss AC were the first acts on, with the latter attracting large crowds of Portuguese teenagers anxious to see the rapper, who performed a mix of hip-hop, rock and pop including recent hit Princesa. New Zealand group, Fat Freddy’s Drop, were unknown to the majority of the attendees, however, still put on a great display of ambient reggae music with an astonishing brass section improvising around the soulful vocal styles of Joe Dukie.
With the bill running slightly behind schedule, the Black Eyed Peas arrived on stage at 10pm to the loudest screams of the weekend. After a dramatic entrance, they launched into a selection of their greatest hits, including Don’t Lie, Shut Up and Where is the Love? All four members delighted the crowd with impressive dance moves, putting great emphasis on getting the crowd involved as much as possible throughout the set. The strength of Fergie’s vocals complemented the rapping styles of the other members who all took the stage by themselves for sections of the concert to show off their individual strengths.
With numerous costume changes and exclusive video footage coming over the big screens, the whole performance had a very professional feel to it, with the American quartet successfully bringing the glitz and glamour of the US to Portuguese shores. In the 30-minute encore, group founder Will.I.Am produced some simultaneous drumming, beat-boxing and rapping, inducing rapturous applause from the fans. The band then closed the show with Don’t Phunk With My Heart, My Humps and Let’s Get It Started. The band eventually left the stage to frenzied cheers and chants of ‘Por-tu-gal’ as the band donned Portuguese flags around their necks. They thanked the crowd for their support over the years, describing how their first ever performance to a large audience was in Lisbon in the late nineties.
Although all the performers put on a great show, they must have wondered why they were performing to a half full stadium. Many questioned the decision of organisers RTA and Música no Coração to extend the festival to two days this year, arguing that the line-up was not strong enough to sell out both nights. The feeling among many was that if all eight acts had performed on the same day, the stadium would have been full and a much better atmosphere would have resulted. It is likely that organisers will revert back to the one-day schedule for the 2007 event.